Stan Brakhage: Wedlock House: An Intercourse (1959) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Stan Brakhage: Wedlock House: An Intercourse (1959)

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Wedlock House An Intercourse - 1959AndrewCommentaryBannerWhen possible I'll post links to the films so that you can follow along.  Wedlock House: An Intercourse is available here.

In Wedlock House: An Intercourse Stan Brakhage is showing us the hard path of accepting a presence in your household outside of the intimate moments.  The intimacy is what we see first in fairly explicit shots of the man and woman having sex.  But instead of the normal black and white footage we get a polarized version of the visuals.  This results in this ghostly look at their love life that dulls the voyeuristic effect we might normally have seeing two people engaged in a very private act.  The film returns to their love in this fashion a few times, and despite the ghostly look is reassuring compared to the paranoia that fills the couples time in between their lovemaking spats.

When they aren't having sex the two are trying to get used to each others presence.  Brakhage's description of the film explains as much, but I loved the way he presented the first, tense part of their acclimation.  Compared to the ghostly bright sex the rest of the home is dark save for the single spotlight that keeps flashing on the man and woman as they wander around the house.  Neither seems to have a grasp on the presence of the other and the way that Brakhage cuts between locations in the home under the cover of darkness gives the impression that both feel like they are being simultaneously watched and abandoned by the other.

I haven't felt like this in a long time, but remember the weird alchemy of feeling abandoned and suffocated when I started dating.  Their unease with each other creates these little pockets that they keep wandering to and find signs of their lover there when before there was no one.  It's disorienting learning to share the space you once held for yourself with someone else and I love the way that Brakhage shows how their worlds become less oppressive as they learn to share each others space.

The film becomes less of a guessing game about who is where as they learn to occupy the home together.  At first, Brakhage keeps them in separate frames from one another.  The first time they share the screen it is almost menacing.  But eventually we see that they are sharing the space together, first by seeing them pick up or manipulate something on the same screen as the other, and finally by sitting in somewhat uncomfortable but mostly happy silence with one another.

When the film ended I thought that the sentiment was actually pretty sweet.  Wedlock started more disorienting than Desistfilm did but transitioned into an affecting presentation of how someone you can share the most intimate moments with can still feel like a stranger without some work.  It's a sweet message, and one that Brakhage conveys very well.

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Brakhage with text

Posted by Andrew

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